Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  July 7, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

10:00 pm
10:01 pm
♪ ♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." >> the glorious ideals and ideals of the declaration of
10:02 pm
independence, which we celebrate, as we should, every fourth of july, and as we know, our secular faith, would have been nothing more than a declaration, words on paper, if it were not for the people doing the hard slogging and the fighting, against all odds, suffering terribly. one of the reasons i wanted to write a book was a line abigail adams wrote to her husband about this time. she said, future generations who will reap the blessings will scarcely know the hardships and sufferings we have endured on their behalf. we do not sufficiently know. >> i knew she wrote that. when i read that, it reminded me that these people knew they were making history. >> absolutely. absolutely. they knew they were being called upon to play a part in one of the great historical dramas of all time, and they would be
10:03 pm
judged by how they played their parts, each individually. henry knox was one of the most admirable people in the whole world. >> aid to george washington. >> commander of artillery. a former boston bookseller who knew nothing more about the military then he read in books. 25 years old. he writes the very day the text of the independence declaration arrives from philadelphia, he writes, "as we play our parts, history will judge us ill or favorably." the future will judge us. they know they are part of history. i think that is extremely important to understand, as you pointed out. that kind of sense of responsibility, a duty -- they did not have much cause to have hope when you consider the odds against them. no real army. no navy. no money. no gunpowder.
10:04 pm
washington had never commanded an army in battle in his life for he was given the role of commander in chief. >> speaking of knowing his role in history, george washington, who we get to know here, was carried forward because he understood what he had to do, even though he did not have a great strategy, even though he was, as you say, not a great general by any definition other than that he was a great leader. >> that is the key to washington. he is not an intellectual like john adams or jefferson. he is not a great orator like patrick henry. he is not a brilliant napoleonic figure. he is a leader. people will follow him. and he has absolute integrity. and he will not give up. and he never forgets what it is about, what the war is for.
10:05 pm
again and again, you have people saying, they are not going to quit because i am not going to leave this good man. at one point it was down to 3000 troops. that is all he had left. hundreds, thousands had either quit, gone home when their enlistments expired, deserted, went over to the enemy -- >> because they were given pardons. >> absolutely. people in new jersey, when
10:06 pm
washington and the army were retreating across new jersey, when the general lord howe offered pardons for anybody who would sign the loyalty oath, people in new jersey came by the thousands to sign as quickly as they could. if there had been daily polls taken and printed in the newspapers, it would have disintegrated immediately. people would realize this does not even have a chance. >> you thought of this story midway through the john adams book. what caused you to think about it? the letter from abigail? >> it was when i was writing the chapter dealing with the summer after the declaration of independence was signed. and the whole more effort is starting to fall apart. and then came the battle of brooklyn, the escape from brooklyn, the miraculous night escape by washington. when you are writing a biography, you cannot stray from your subject very much. elizabeth longford, who wrote the great biography of queen victoria, said you cannot leave your subject for more than five pages.
10:07 pm
i badly wanted to write about the escape from brooklyn. you cannot do it here, but you can do it in the next book. so i began, which surprises some people, with george iii going before parliament in the october of 1775, to declare the american colonies are in rebellion, that their leaders, these rabble-rousers -- >> he calls them the unhappy americans. >> they are traitors. he says so. he, the king, and the british power, british army, british empire, are going to bring these people to heel. they are going to crush the rebellion. it is when that speech reaches boston, on the first day of the new year, because of the great delay of crossing the ocean, the first day of 1776, that people in the army under washington, people everywhere, realize this is not going to be a short,
10:08 pm
unpleasant business, which will end with reconciliation, and we better be fighting for independence. they do not say it right away, although some are writing, like -- >> another aid to george washington. >> who knew no more of the military when he joined up, and when he was made a general at the age of 43 -- who knew no more of the military than what he had read in books. but we have to remember that was the age they felt if you want to learn how to do something or know something was a close study of books, urges the whole idea of the enlightenment. they all had about the equivalent of what we would say a fifth grade education. >> everything i know about this is because of your book. these guys are new englanders. george washington is a very patrician virginian. >> and arguably dislikes new
10:09 pm
englanders. he looks down on them. he thinks they are dirty and unruly. they have this unfortunate idea they would like to decide things for themselves, which you cannot have an army. he overcomes that bias, which is a real inner struggle. he has to, because it is all he has got, a new england army. he has some people from the middle colonies that join. >> he takes command at age 43. >> had never commanded an army in battle before in his life. he says to congress, i am not the man for this job. he also knew he was better than anybody else they could pick. they choose him not because he is a great general. they know he fought in the french and indian war and had a distinguished record. they pick him because they know him as a person, and they know him as a politician.
10:10 pm
he is a political general, and that is sometimes used in a dismissive or a less than complementary way. we should thank god that he was a political general, because he never forgets who is boss. congress is boss. >> you have washington at 40 three. he goes to the constitutional convention in a uniform, even though he is saying, i am not the man. >> he is certainly available. >> you have that contradiction. >> yes and no. he is being honest. he is ready to serve. he has his uniform. he is reminding them that he is a military man at heart. but he is very genuine. look, i am not the ideal fellow for this job. he makes some very bad mistakes in judgment. he was outfoxed, outflanked, outnumbered, made to look pretty inept at the battle of brooklyn.
10:11 pm
he was so indecisive at the time of the siege of fort washington that he really cost that bastion they thought was impregnable, along with troops. these were terrible, very serious. and yet he did not quit. he did not succumb to his own sense of defeat and failure. and the people who followed him, with only a few exceptions, were determined to stay with him, as was congress. >> it is said about him that he had this special quality, and that you could not quite put your finger on it, but you knew from the people who saw him up close that he had it, almost like an x-factor. >> he was a commanding figure. >> tall?
10:12 pm
>> 6'2". probably weighed 190, 200 pounds. perfect physical condition. he was a young man, only 43, but they were all young man. adams was 40. jefferson was 33 when he wrote the declaration of independence. we forget this. >> franklin is the only one who had the age. >> he was old enough to have been their father. but we see them as the white-haired founding fathers. patriarchs. elder statesman. at this point, they are not. it is a young american's cause. they were not in the majority. ever, the people who were for the revolution, were never in the majority. they were maybe a third. no one knows what the proportions really were. there were not polls or surveys taken. but at least as many people were against the war as were for it.
10:13 pm
>> and they knew what would probably happen to them, the leaders, if they lost. off with their heads. they would be all hung at the crack of dawn. talk about the war for a second. 1775, they go to boston. they win some victories in 1776. no victories? didn't they surround them in boston? >> they drove the british out of boston. impossible for the british to remain in boston. this incredible feat of ingenuity and doing the impossible, hauling the cannon -- >> did that give them confidence? >> probably too much confidence. after all, they had driven the british -- >> and this is the biggest superpower in the world. >> and they took them on and drove them out of boston.
10:14 pm
>> they were jubilant. they were a victorious team. they marched to new york, the field of battle, for the first time. they suddenly have a name. they are called the continental army. they have a flag to march under. they are going to be joined in new york by the people from new jersey, new yorkers, pennsylvanians. more than it was in boston, truly a continental army. >> and what happened? >> they got sick in great numbers. epidemic dysentery, smallpox. did not understand the rules of hygiene. washington divided his army, taking half over to brooklyn. >> a mistake? >> it was a mistake to try to defend new york. it was indefensible because they had no seapower, no navy.
10:15 pm
the british came in with a fleet of 400 ships. >> if the british had gone up the hudson, could it have been over? >> it could have been. when washington fought the battle of brooklyn with about 9000 troops, it was sadly defeated. 300 americans killed. over a thousand taken prisoner, including three generals. there were pockets of valorous performance on the part of some of our troops. the miracle is they did not lose the war. at that point, the army was in effect in the midst of a real trap. all the british had to do was bring their fleet up the east river, but the wind was in the wrong direction. the other direction, i think it would have all been over. washington and half of his army would have been trapped.
10:16 pm
>> no united states of america, just because of the wind. history would have changed. >> the next day, after the defeat, the battle of long island, they decide they have to escape. the night of august 29, they organize a retreat back across the east river, by rounding up every boat they can get their hands on, on the east river, the hudson, new jersey. brought them all over, and they took that army off of brooklyn in the night, 9000 men, cannon, equipment, forces, everything, without the loss of a single man. an organized retreat in the face of an overwhelming army is difficult to bring off successfully. amateur, undisciplined troops, green troops, people who had never marched with a rifle or musket before, they pulled this off and it worked. it was as miraculous as the wind being in their favor. >> they are facing the largest expeditionary force ever
10:17 pm
mounted. >> who had just defeated them in a humongous battle, a huge battle, the largest in america up to that point. and the people who saved the army were marblehead, massachusetts mariners, under a little general named john glover. you have a combination of luck or circumstance, the hand of
10:18 pm
god, as many said, with the wind being exactly what they needed. you also had the skill, the ability of those mariners to pull that off. the boats were so loaded down, water was only inches below the gunwales. ability of those mariners to if the enemy had any idea they were trying to evacuate, they could have descended on the army and annihilated them, truly, right there. when they get across, most of them, morning is coming.
10:19 pm
a lot of them are still back on the brooklyn side. it is going to be light, and that will be curtains for them. in comes a providential fog that covers all of brooklyn. but it does not happen on the new york side. if you were writing a book and you had that happen, you would -- >> that is too much of a perfect weather. >> that is not real. >> at this time, as they are retreating, what was the mood of washington? >> dolorous. one of abject discouragement. he was exhausted. he had not slept for three nights or more. they all were exhausted. and he -- i am sure he realized that he played his hand wrong, that he misjudged the whole situation. he never covered what was called the jamaica pass. there is a pass through the roof ridge that runs along long island.
10:20 pm
they had nobody posted there to stop the british. the british sent 10,000 men on a nine mile march through the night, and around, and they completely outflanked us. it was a perfect military maneuver, perfectly performed by the british, just as they are landing on long island. everything was done just right. if general howe had attacked that bridge -- he had them on the run and they were retreating back to the fortifications of brooklyn heights. he could have ended -- >> what does that say about the british, their leadership and tenacity? >> it is a big puzzle that historians and military scholars have debated for 229 years. why did he not move in for the kill? some say he did not do it cousin had had such bloody experience at bunker hill, where the americans were in position in a high ground trench, and he was not going to attack. it had been awful. they lost a thousand men. on the other hand, he would attack a frontal position later
10:21 pm
on at fort washington. i think he felt, why destroy them completely, when we are going to win this? let's pull back a little bit. let's not just crush them, because we want them back in. >> they want to maintain the union. >> politically, he was a whig. that does not mean he was not a tough and professional soldier. he was very smart and very courageous. >> the two howes were brothers? >> richard was the admiral and william was the general. they were very highly placed, very influential figures in london society.
10:22 pm
they were aristocrats, as all officers were. and any picture we have of bumbling aristocratic fools in high command during our revolution is simply not so. there are many misconceptions. >> what about our misconceptions of george iii? >> he is seen as the crazy king who lost the colonies. >> and in fact -- >> intelligent, interesting man, very sympathetic character. a great collector of looks. a wonderful painter. he was a musician. he was a devoted father. and husband. he was intelligent. samuel johnson thought he was charming company, and samuel johnson did not judge people lightly. but he saw it as his duty to crush this rebellion. george, be king. when your mother tells you, you
10:23 pm
be king. he was still pretty young. and the madness of king george, which we know about because of the play and the movie, that does not come for many years later. long after the war. >> this is diaries from soldiers. >> that is the real story. >> and you like some of them. hodgkins. your favorite character? >> ipswich shoemaker, and fitch, from connecticut. hodgkins was a shoemaker. had children and a wife at home, sarah, to whom he wrote regularly no matter what was happening. and they are wonderful letters. he talks about being told to march for this glorious cause. he fights on. after the escape from brooklyn, in this terribly to moralist army, he is writing to his wife, and he has just received a letter that the little boy,
10:24 pm
their youngest child, has died. he has known the little boy was sick and was very worried about him. we forget sometimes, these people are thinking about their families, their loved ones. they have been defeated. it looks like it is over. they are exhausted, filthy, dirty. he hears that this child he adores has died. and yet he picks himself up and he goes on, and he will not stop. >> because they believed in their leader, they believed in their mission, they believed in the holy idea they were creating a nation? >> i think so. joseph hodgkins and fitch never talk about the declaration of independence. it is interesting. i never found life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness mentioned. >> how about equality? >> our country -- we are going
10:25 pm
to decide this ourself. we are going to have the society and way of life we want. we are not going to be dictated to. >> is what always drives revolutions. >> they are not fighting because they are oppressed and poor. americans have the highest payment, average americans, of any place in the world. >> but they want to shape their own destiny. >> exactly. and they were proud of who they were. and they wanted to show these brits that they could fight as well as anyone. given some experience, they are learning from experience. washington, green. knox, glover -- they are all learning as they go along. >> that was one of the values washington had. he could learn from experience. >> when he is defeated, he does not say, pity me. what can i learn from this?
10:26 pm
experience had been his teacher all through life. his father died when he was quite young. he was on his own from age 16. these other people were, too. fitch is keeping a diary. he kept a diary no matter what was happening, including after he was captured and taken prisoner, and put in one of those vile british prison ships in the harbor here in new york. i think he must have hid -- a beautiful leather diary. they are writing on scraps of paper, and i think he was hiding it on the ship, because it was against the rules. the fact that they wrote the letters, kept the diaries, is part of their great contributions to the country, because we know what it is like. he can be in their shoes and their skin, and feel what they went through, these human beings. also, i think, what comes across is how tough they were. these were people who had been
10:27 pm
beat up by life, just by peace, by our standards. we are sort of contained in cotton, compared to how life was. ♪
10:28 pm
10:29 pm
>> they did not know how it was going to turn out. >> they also knew that without courage, without an understanding that life is not always a gift of a bed of roses, you are not going to make it through life, because life was hard. any new englander, for example, knew that it is best to expect the worst. life on a new england farm -- all of these people were farmers. it was a struggle. it was a battle. many of these fellows had no shoes. of course, in the wintertime, it was terrible. they are leaving bloody footprints in the snow from marching in their bare feet.
10:30 pm
that really happened. you also have to understand a farmer, particularly a young farm boy, went barefoot all summer long. about late may to probably october. they had tough feet. they were not like our feet. that is something that, understand, they knew how to fix a broken wagon. they knew how to pull out a stump or dig a trench. they were used to hard work. >> they knew how to survive outside. back to the battle. they retreat to new jersey. >> yes. >> down to 3000, 2500 men. ill clothed, ill fed, not enough cold. it is now december, november-december, and things are precarious.
10:31 pm
george washington, on christmas night, decides what? >> all hope was gone. he says himself, the game is pretty nearly out. and sometimes when all hope is gone, the thing you do is attack. >> freedom is having nothing to lose. >> he has wanted to attack all along, from boston on. he is constantly wanting to attack. his councils of war, again and again, are pulling him back from war, wisely. he launched an attack on the british in boston. a catastrophe. >> overwhelming. >> he decides, christmas night, they are going to attack. they are going to cross the delaware and strike at trenton. there are 1500 hessians, german mercenaries. they are outposts, while the
10:32 pm
major part of the british army, the enemy army, is pulled back. closer to new york. they cross at night, and they marched through the night. to give you some idea of how rough that was, the only for talent is, the only man lost in the battle of trenton, is to guys who froze to death on the march. just froze to death. they hit early the next morning, and it was a rout, because it was a total surprise and they came in determined to really win. when it was over, washington turned to one of his officers and said, this is a glorious day for america. and it was. he knew what the psychological impact would be. >> what did it do? >> he gave people the idea we
10:33 pm
might win. >> even though it took six or seven years. >> we did not know that. it was possible to fight them and beat them. it was not a big battle, the battle of long island, the battle of brooklyn, as it was called then. it was a small battle. it was a fierce fight, bloody for the enemy, the hessians. and the hessians were not drunk from christmas celebrations the night before, as many people have written and said. they were not. washington had to do something. the natural decision would have been to retreat back across the delaware, where it was pretty safe, because the british did not have any boats to get across. but they did not do that. he turned and made a big loop around, came out and struck at
10:34 pm
princeton, and won again. two victories, one right on top of the other. that changed the morale of everybody. you can read it in the letters of abigail adams, of all kinds of ministers and attorneys, people in all walks of life, raving about what it meant to get the word we had won at trenton. one of the most important events in the war, one of the most important events in history. it would truly change the world. that little nighttime attack on trenton, which was a little village. >> he took 2500 men over. >> two other attacks were to be launched further down the river. the others did not. >> in this case, washington was the field commander.
10:35 pm
>> he rode with the troops. he was not commanding immediately. general greene and general sullivan were the commanders of the prongs that attacked. and the boston bookseller henry knox was in charge of the artillery. the artillery really were decisive. >> these guys that george washington chose early in 1975 served him at trenton. >> they served him through the entire war. they were the only general officers to stay the distance, to go the whole way with washington. only two of them. washington, knox, and greene are the only general officers. >> hamilton came in, didn't he? and he served as an aide to washington? >> he is a young artillery officer. he fought at trenton and new york. >> what did he think of washington?
10:36 pm
>> he idolized him. later, they would have their differences. of course, he would become washington's secretary of the treasury. >> after he is one of the great men in history, they are but poor george washington, there is no america. >> that is my view. the greatest president we ever had. i think he is the greatest american of all. if it were not for him, as you said, there would not be a united states of america. and he did it all right, particularly when he became president. he set the example, just as he was setting the example as the general, as the commander in chief, in the very dark days of the revolution. i think we have got to understand how human they were, because that makes their achievement all the more remarkable. if they were gods, gods, god can do anything, and they were not.
10:37 pm
they were not superhumans. they were extraordinary people, and some of them are truly brilliant, and it is a miracle what they accomplish. but these were the founding fathers. they were making a country, making a revolution first, and then making a country against the most daunting odds imaginable. >> where did the phrase "present at the creation" first come? >> dean atchison's marvelous book about the truman years. but this is the true creation. they are not just starting a new company. they are making a country, a nation. and they do not know how it is going to come out. in the country, in the 13 colonies in 1776 -- they never would have gone ahead. only a third of the people were for it. odds were against it. it was not popular.
10:38 pm
basically, people were against it. >> what matter of man and woman was in favor of it? >> to a large degree, new englanders and virginians. new yorkers and pennsylvanians -- the carolinians, absolutely, and maryland. the central states, principally new york and pennsylvania, were very much on the fence. they were led by a man named john dickinson. >> what was the nature of the revolutionist? were they intellectuals? were they political firebrands? >> they were all of that. ambitious politicians. decent, hard-working people who had farms. >> just were offended by the way things were. >> they thought they were not being granted the rights that were their birthright as english subjects. in other words, they are not so
10:39 pm
much revolting to create a new and very different kind of society. they are saying, you are taking away our rights as english subjects, free englishmen, a government of laws, not of men, and you are taxing us, and we have no choice in that. you are taxing us to pay your own bills back home. why should we pick up the tab for your expenditures there in england when we have no part in that life? most of us have never seen england, and besides it is probably time we started our own country. >> no taxation without representation. >> when they said free and independent, the concept is that they cannot be free unless they are independent, and they cannot generate the moral fire, the morale, the spirit, to fight a war, unless they are fighting independence. they have to do it to give spirit to the army, and they are not going to be able to get any
10:40 pm
help from abroad, namely france, if they do not declare independence. france is not going to give financial and military support to a country that is going to make up and go back and be part of england again. the french support of our american revolution, which was essential to our victory in the american revolution, was primarily a way for the french to get at the english. they were not anxious for a government of all the people created equal. france was a monarchy. more of a monarchy than even great britain. >> it is amazing when you think about that. the war against france, john adams believes that the most important thing he did was to want peace with france. most americans -- >> do not realize we were fighting a war with france in the last years of the 18th century, during the john adams
10:41 pm
administration. we were fighting an undeclared war at sea, but a real war, exchanging fire, capturing ships, all the acts of war at sea. the real undeclared war at sea could very well have ignited into a real war with, as it happens, the new high dictator, if you will, the emperor, as he liked to proclaim himself, napoleon. but adams steered a very careful, dangerous, treacherous course among the shoals and the whirlpools of diplomacy, and managed to keep america neutral, not to side with either england or france. the jeffersonians wanted peace with france at any price. the hamiltonian's, high federalists, were eager to go to war with france.
10:42 pm
it was good politics. it would probably have guaranteed adams reelection to go to war with france. when he succeeded in keeping us from going to war with france after the humiliations of the so-called x, y, z affair, he felt he had saved the country from a colossal blunder, and he was right. but it was at the expense of his own political fortunes, and he knew that. >> and did he place that effort in terms of his historical legacy? >> he thought it was number one. he was proudest of that than anything he had done. other historians agree it really does rank as an extremely brave, politically courageous act, a true profile in courage. there are many similarities between truman and john adams, great differences. all farmers' sons. short stature. readers of history.
10:43 pm
letter writers. both very direct in their candor. and both underestimated. and both men of character and integrity. and both vice presidents who followed looming, idolized presidents before them. and, having said all that, there were differences. adams was brilliant. adams was an intellectual, a giant mind. truman was very intelligent, but not that. adams was learned, probably the most widely, deeply read american of his day, more even than jefferson, a armor's son who became that.
10:44 pm
and adams did not like party politics. he thought party politics were vile, as did washington. he thought the country would be destroyed by party politics, because people would think more about the fortunes of their party than fortunes of the united states of america. imagine thinking that. >> one of the other similarities was they both had a great sense of the country and what it meant, and the mission of the country. >> they were true patriots, who showed that by risking their lives, by going to war or going to serve overseas, as adams did in the midst of war, crossing the atlantic four times, signing the declaration of independence that declared him, as it did all the others, traitors. >> were they loners? was truman more of a club guy? >> truman was not a loner at all. he was very active in the masons.
10:45 pm
he was a good party man. they are both devoted to their wives. they were both -- >> abigail and bess. >> and they were both well advised by their wives, backstage. >> bess was a wise counsel? >> i think she was. bess abhorred public life, would freeze in front of a camera. abigail adored politics and in many ways was a better political thinker then was her husband. she had a wonderful passage -- >> we will get to that in a moment. suppose i said to you, david, this is a good idea, but it is going to take 10 years of your life. >> i am glad i did not know, because i never would have done it. >> you never thought about -- >> never. i have been very lucky in my
10:46 pm
subjects, charlie. the more you learn, the more you want to learn. every book -- i have never known a great deal about any subject right away, ever. >> there is discovery for you. >> if i knew all about it, i would not want to write the book. it is a journey. you learn so much by doing this, and you learn a lot about yourself. >> like what? >> this might sound strange, but i think writing history requires a great deal of imagination. i do not mean that you are making things up. but you have to be able to transport yourself into that other time, and into the shoes of those other people. get inside their skins, if you will. that takes imagination. that takes empathy and sympathy. i do not mean sympathetic in the sense of feeling sorry for. sympathetic is, you understand what trouble they were in, or
10:47 pm
how complicated the situation may have been. and what they did not know. you have to always remember, they don't know enough, because they are caught up in the moment, just as we are. they do not know how things are going to turn out. i also feel that, for me, it has been an opportunity for self-expression, because i can express things that i feel about human nature, about life, about the bonds of friendship, family, about loyalty, about bravery under difficult circumstances, and about our country, that i am dying to express, that i want to express. i cannot understand how anyone who professes to love our country can have no interest in our history. >> let me go back to jefferson.
10:48 pm
what is interesting is that everything adams was, jefferson was not. jefferson burned all the letters he and his wife wrote or received. >> yes, jefferson lives in a different world from adams. he has been born and raised in a different world. his first memory was of being carried on a pillow by a slave. the first thing he remembered in his life. he is, of course, our great voice, the great hand, as they said then. he was the pen of the revolution, and adams was the voice. he speaks for the equality and the common man. and here he is, living as far removed from the daily life of a common man as one could get. served in every possible way by people held in bondage, by his slaves.
10:49 pm
adams was a farmer's son whose mother was almost certainly illiterate, who grew up knowing that life, particularly on a new england farm, is a struggle. he is saying, watch out for the common man. i know, i am one of them. the majority, they get too much power, can be as despotic and dangerous as an individual. they are the yin and yang of the revolution. >> adams, jefferson, and franklin -- of those three, is it automatic that jefferson loved paris more than the other two, or is it hard to tell? >> i do not know he did. adams spoke french better than he did, read it more readily. jefferson took to the way of life immediately. jefferson was there longer.
10:50 pm
he was there five years. i think in many ways they were as happy as any years of his life, because he was away from slavery. >> was hemmings with him? >> three probably were there. >> do you really think he was so troubled by slavery it made him happy he was away? >> i think he knew it was wrong. >> why didn't he give it up? >> that is a good question. we will never know the answer. i have a feeling it had to do with finances. he was always in debt, and his greatest wealth was in his slaves, which was true of many southern planters. >> he died very poor. >> broke, deeply. >> with fine wine in his cellar. >> and he never stopped spending. he must've been a smooth talker when he went to the bank. how he could get away with it -- all his life, he was never not in debt.
10:51 pm
but i think that jefferson wanted to bring something home from paris. he brought home paintings. he brought home some 80 crates of books, all kinds. to raise the cultural level of the country. and i think that was a genuine mission. i know it was a genuine mission. and that is exactly what these people felt. these americans were not disenchanted with their country. they were not like the so-called lost generation. >> they went to learn something and bring something back. >> they were not alienated from america. they would talk about, this is going to make me a better american. >> you are talking about thomas jefferson or the people at the time? >> they are not going to bring home 80 crates full of stuff, but they are going to bring home themselves as a better sculptor, better painter, better physician, better politician. i had an opportunity to write a book about some of the most
10:52 pm
spectacular human beings i have ever -- they are interesting. i am interested in the people. an entirely virtuous person is not very interesting. an entirely perfect -- >> you want flaws and warts. >> writing history requires a great deal of imagination. i do not mean you are making things up, but you have to be able to transport yourself into that other time, and into the shoes of those other people. get inside their skins, if you will, and that takes imagination. that takes empathy and sympathy. i do not mean sympathetic in the sense of feeling sorry, but sympathetic in that you understand what trouble they were in, or how complicated the situation may have been. and what they did not know. >> which of these stories, which of these characters, which of these books means the most to you?
10:53 pm
>> cannot answer it. it is like answering which of your children. i can say this. no question about it. of all the years, 40 years i have been at work, the happiest, most fulfilling years -- and i have loved every subject i have undertaken. i have been very lucky. but the years i enjoyed most were the years of writing the john adams book. because of that material. it was such a privilege to keep company with those people. they set such a high standard for us. >> you believe that if your subjects lived to an older age, they have an older perspective on things, they are freer to talk with more -- >> i think so. i feel that way. maybe you know. courage is having done it
10:54 pm
before. and i feel now that i see a lot more clearly than i did before. to write well is to think clearly. and that is why it is so hard. it is also why it is so enjoyable. writing is hard work, but i have never equated ease with happiness. i am often happier when i am working than i am doing anything else. i am on vacation every day. >> that is because you found something you love. >> i love it, and i want you to know what i love. and i want you to know much more about our country. i want people to understand that we are being judged by history. history is not just something that happened before we came on the scene. we are part of history.
10:55 pm
how are we going to measure up? how are our political discourse, our participation as citizens -- how will we look when they take a look at as 50 or 100 years from now? >> you have been part of our history, and i thank you for sharing it with me. >> thank you, charlie, as always. ♪
10:56 pm
10:57 pm
10:58 pm
10:59 pm
11:00 pm
>> live from pier 3 in san francisco, welcome to "bloomberg west," where we cover innovation, technology, and the future of business. i am emily chang. first, a check on your headlines. cloud storage provider box has raised an additional $150 million in funding. people with knowledge of the situation say the latest round values box at $2.4 billion and buys the company some time after delaying its ipo. if you recall, box originally filed for the ipo in march and was hoping to raise $250 million in the offering. uber is temporarily cutting fares

14 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on